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Explanation of Clanship

The word clan, signifies family, and a clan was a certain number of families of the same name, sprung, as was believed, from the same root, and governed by the lineal descendant of the parent family. This patriarchal form of society was probably common in the infancy of mankind, and seems to have prevailed in the days of Abraham; indeed, it was on a similar principle that Palestine was divided among the twelve tribes of Israel, the descendants of the twelve sons of Jacob.

Clan Cameron is a West Highland Scottish clan, with one main branch Lochiel, and numerous cadet branches such as Erracht, Clunes, Glen Nevis, and Fassifern. The Clan Cameron lands are in Lochaber and within their lands is the mountain Ben Nevis which is the highest mountain in the British Isles. The chief of the clan is customarily referred to as simply "Lochiel". The origins of Clan Cameron are uncertain; there are several theories Clan Maclaine of Lochbuie is a highland Scottish clan. This clan is NOT a branch of the Clan MacLean. The Maclaine of Lochbuie branch of the family are descended from Hector, the brother of Lachlan. Lachlan founded the Duart branch of the MacLeans.

Scottish clans; which comes from the Gaelic word clann, "children", gives a certain sense of identity and also a shared descent to people in Scotland and to their relations all over the world. As far back as we can trace, the Highlands appear to have been divided into a number of districts, latterly known as Mormaordoms, each under the jurisdiction of a Mormaor, to whom the several tribes in each district looked up as their common head. It is not improbable that Galgacas, the chosen leader mentioned by Tacitus, may have held a position similar to this, and that in course of time some powerful or popular chief, at first elected as a temporary leader, may have contrived to make his office permanent, and even to some extent hereditary.

The title Mormaor, however, is first met with only after the various divisions of northern Scotland had been united into a kingdom. "In Scotland the royal official placed over the crown or fiscal lands, appears to have been originally known as the Maor, and latterly under the Teutonic appellation of Thane. . . .

The original Thanage would appear to have been a district held of the Crown, the holder, Maor or Thane, being accountable for the collection of the royal dues, and for the appearance of the royal tenantry at the yearly ‘hosting,’ and answering to the hereditary Toshach, or captain of a clan, for the king stood in the place of the Cean-cinneth, or chief. . . . When lands were strictly retained in the Crown, the Royal Thane, or Maor, was answerable directly to the King; but there was a still greater official among the Scots, known under the title of Mormaor, or Lord High Steward who was evidently a Maor placed over a province instead of a thanage—an earldom or county instead of a barony—a type of Harfager’s royal Jarl who often exercised as a royal deputy that authority which he had originally claimed as the independent lord of the district over which he presided."

According to Mr Skene, it was only about the 16th century when the great power of these Mormaors was broken up, and their provinces converted into thanages or earldoms, many of which were held by Saxon nobles, who possessed them by marriage, that the clans first make their appearance in these districts and in independence. By this, we suppose, he does not mean that it was only when the above change took place that the system of clanship sprang into existence, but that then the various great divisions of the clans, losing their ceancinneth, or head of the kin, the individual clans becoming independent, sprang into greater prominence and assumed a stronger individuality.